Goodbye, Anthony and Welcome to Forever Blueshirts
Welcome to Forever Blueshirts, the home of the Tilted Ice family of podcasts and the new blog being run by former members of the FullTilt NYR site. We’re here to bring you some great content, in both the writing medium and podcast medium and we aim to be your #1 source for Rangers news and insights. We have a great team assembled and ready to provide you with the best content possible. As we officially head into this new era; two of the longest tenured people from the Forever Blueshirts family want to say goodbye to a certain someone.
Sometimes you just need someone to believe in you. That person for me was Anthony, who most of you know as NYR_FullTilt on Twitter. He’s a guy who cares about his friends, about his family and has a passion for the game and the Rangers like no other. Without him, I wouldn’t be working where I am today. This is going to be a bit of a long one so sit back, relax, put on your favorite Rangers jersey and get ready to read our goodbyes to Anthony.
Way back in April of 2015, I was just finishing up my junior year of college and getting ready for a fun summer break with friends. I was doing my nightly Rangers twitter check and I noticed a message from FullTilt Rangers. Now, I had read FTNYR content in the past and I knew that they produced some quality stories and they were a big source of my Rangers news. Intrigued by the message I opened it and saw that Anthony was a fan of my writing work and extended an invitation for me to join the team. I jumped at the chance to have my work featured on a site that I considered to be one of the best.
I began writing stories about the Rangers and various teams around the league whenever I had an idea or whenever Anthony requested a piece from me. He was always there when I needed some support and understood when college work would hinder my FullTilt work. Something I admire about him is that he knows when to push to make someone better and when he needs to take a step back. I never felt as if Anthony was pushy in any way and with his guidance my sports writing improved by leaps and bounds. I got to write about my favorite team and the edits and tips he would give me helped me become a writer in the long run. Did my classes have something to do with this as well? Yes, of course, but writing for a sports blog or being involved in sports media, that people rely on each and every day for their news is a big responsibility. You need to embrace it and Anthony helped me see that.
Just about two years went by and my involvement with FullTilt stayed steady. I got to write season previews, player profiles, opinion pieces and so much more. It was an experience being in a classroom just couldn’t replicate. Eventually, I jumped at the chance to be the host of the revived podcast. Due to my work with the podcast, on both the recording and production side, I was hired by a major media company to finally get the big break I needed after college. Due to Anthony believing in a college junior majoring in journalism, I earned a chance to work for a company I’d dreamed about working for since I was 13 years old.
FullTilt Rangers also gave me the chance to meet some great people including someone I haven’t met in person yet but he seems like an old friend: Mr. Michael “Kappy” Kaplan. You’ll hear from him below. Christina, Zak, Shawn, and the entire team… it’s been awesome getting to know you all and none of it would’ve happened without Ant. This great group of Rangers fan, from all walks of life and from all different kinds of professions, found a place to settle in and get their thoughts out thanks to Ant. Our own little NYR family.
This Forever Blueshirts family has been trusted to lead the site into the future and we plan to do so with integrity, intensity and intelligence. FullTilt was almost disbanded but none of us wanted to see it go away so we all got together and made this happen. We made this new endeavor possible. We did this for you, the fans and to make sure the dream of a maverick blogger wouldn’t die.
Ant was never one to just agree with the crowd. His takes can be described as “spicy hot.” He wasn’t afraid to showcase how he really felt and what he thought the team needed. That’s something to be admired in this world where people can be afraid to express their true opinions. Let’s not forget Ant’s great take on Corsi and just how much it means to the game right everyone? Right? No… Well it’s safe to say he’s old school and relies a lot more on the eye test than most but hey, sometimes the advanced stats dont tell the whole story and its guys like Ant that remind us to actually WATCH the games instead of just using numbers and formulas to evaluate players.
Anthony, I will forever be grateful to you for seeing something in me when others did not. Everyone makes mistakes; nobody’s perfect but Ant has done more than enough to make up for any mistakes he’s made as a blogger in the past. He’s earned this retirement and he’s earned the right to step away and just be a fan again. So with that I say goodbye Ant, we will do our best to continue your mission of running a blog and podcast by the fans and for the fans. See you in the old blueseats buddy.
That was sweet Russ, give me a few minutes it’s a little dusty in here…
“I’m back” Michael Jordan famously wrote through his PR agency one time, and out he came in that famous number 45 jersey.
“Well they came and got me out of Texas” Roger Clemens said over the Yankee Stadium PA system from the owners box.
Right across the river Brett Favre came running out of the tunnel, slapping D’Brickashaw Ferguson’s butt while wearing a different shade of green.
Sports is made up of moments, some great and some not so much, but the one thing they have in common is those moments are written by those who built their legend from the ground up. That’s what gave them the opportunity to say “you know what, I’m going to come back and give it one more shot.” Because they earned it and because they can.
Why am I saying all this you ask? Because we have a retirement in our midst here and look, I’ll be honest, by no means should we compare blogging to MJ, Clemens and Favre but in it’s own little circle just like in sports, it has it’s heroes and it has it’s foes. With this retirement is the common joke that runs around “He’ll be back.” and to that I say “come on back.” because he earned it and because he can and because New York Rangers fandom is frankly better because of Anthony Scultore, AKA Big Poppa Tilt.
However, I don’t believe we’ll be so lucky and I do believe Anthony followed one basic principal, “leave it better than you found it” and he did just that with New York Rangers fandom and with Full Tilt Rangers which will now grace the name Forever Blueshirts.
Full Tilt was built as a one man blogging operation back in the 1970’s, as the New York Ranger teams of Rod Gilbert, Vic Hadfield and Jean Ratelle made their run with some of the best Ranger teams not compiled in 1994. I’m joking of course, but the parallel is still there. It’s been there since most people can remember and i mean that in the magical little sweet spot of our world where sports met the internet and those two met social media… ah what a beautiful marriage.
We all remember that moment, some more and some less, in our fandom. Let me set the stage… It’s the day after a great Rangers win and you just finished reading the mainstream beat writers for the team’s coverage of the night before. As you stared down at your phone you wondered, you thirsted for more. More coverage, more opinion, shoot give me a crazy rumor I really don’t care, I just want to know more about that Rangers team that gave me such awesome thrills the night before as the goals kept coming and the cheers got louder and as Sam yelled “It’s a power play goal!”
So what did you do? You typed into google “New York Rangers” and flipped a few pages till you got past the NY Post’s and the Daily News and ESPN and SI. “Fulltiltnyr.com… is this poker or does that NYR stand for Rangers?” you asked? So you clicked, and that’s the moment when I came across the wonderful world of Rangers blogs. Some readers may not remember a time before this, but there was a long period of time where all our sports coverage revolved around a newspaper boxscore, or to advance it just a bit, an ESPN app boxscore and a postgame review, the same postgame review simulcast over four different sites.
To get hot take’s and opinions on hockey before blogs, it just didn’t exist. Not in New York. If you wanted some fresh takeS on sports sure you could walk over to your local bar and jump in on some conversation. But New York City pre 2009 you’d be a little hard pressed to find a group of people talking sports where you could jump out and say “Well what’d you guys think of that Drury and Gomez signing, think those guys are going to be the final piece the Rangers need?!”
Hockey only truly mattered in mainstream circles in those brief moments of playoff time, just as Knicks season winded down, March Madness ended and Yankee season hadn’t begun. Maybe you’d get 15 seconds of commentary on it during Pardon The Interruption if something major happened in the NHL, but you also needed that major occurrence to happen to your team and you were getting your hot take from someone who last watched a hockey game in the 1980’s. I
f you were lucky the Knicks would suck enough and the Yankees just didn’t have any offseason drama where maybe you could get in some hockey talk with your friends. Your hockey talk would only be indulged if the Rangers put up a couple wins in the playoffs and New Yorkers began to look around the corner of 34th and 7th down at the Garden and say “hey, there’s something going on over there.” But in those days, just as people looked around that corner, the Rangers would get knocked out of the playoffs. Offseason talk? Free Agent targets? Good luck finding that!
That is the insanely big void that hockey blogs filled for us as fans. We no longer had to be that weird guy bringing up hockey in the middle of a football conversation. We no longer had to be Boomer with Carton where he’d scream “Nobody cares about hockey Boomer!” Those of us who heard that phrase “Nobody cares about hockey!” we all appreciate what Anthony and Full Tilt did for us and for our fandom. We understand it, we get it.
It’s not a stretch to go out and say Anthony is a pioneer in what he did for Rangers fandom, it’s the truth. We’re all fans, but somebody’s got to throw the party and somebody’s got to buy the chips, the beer, and the dip and make sure the house is clean before and after (Mrs. Tilt does not like coming home to a messy house.). That’s what hockey blogging is.
We all want to talk hockey and read about hockey and consume all the knowledge there is on hockey, but most of us really want to show up 15 minutes after the parties started and leave 15 minutes after the parties ended so we can get home in time to tuck ourselves into bed. The parallel exists in the behind the scenes work that goes on operating a site the size and magnitude of Full Tilt.
After helping out with the site and contributing with some content, I can see the amount of work that goes into it and I have to be honest, I would never want to run my own one man blog. Anthony, to you, hats off for that. Even as a contributor I’m able to log in when I want and log out when I want. Even back in the day when we were so luckily graced with a little bit of hockey talk at the bar, when we were fulfilled we could pay our tab and leave for the night. That’s not the case when you’re running a one man blog.
I’m going to let you all in on some information here. Most of these sites that are around now, are networked sites. Which means the back of the office things are handled by a company. SB Nation, Fansided and more. They aren’t truly independent. That’s not to take anything away from them but it really is the difference between buying a McDonalds franchise and starting your own fast food burger joint on your own. The quality may be ten times as good, but the infrastructure can never be replicated to that of a big operation.
Marketing, maintenence… in this new era search engine optimization (customers). That’s what’s truly special about Full Tilt and what it accomplished and what Anthony is able to hand off in the form of Forever Blueshirts.
Month after month Full Tilt is up there, and many times beats some of the syndicated blogs in views and visits to the site. Let me put that into context for you, because of you the fans who keep coming back, Full Tilt is beating nationally syndicated blogs. It’s the equivalent of a public access sports show, out-rating ESPN and that is not an exaggeration. It’s a story of David beating Goliath and that’s not dramatizing it at all either.
Many of the other sites are big on numbers to back performance so here are some numbers for you, Zero… that’s the advertising and marketing budget for Full Tilt. And so it will remain, Zero… for the advertising and marketing budget for Forever Blueshirts.
Full Tilt got by, succeeded and stood out above all the rest for two simple reasons. Passion and Quality. Forever Blueshirts will continue on with two simple principles, Passion and Quality. Forever Blueshirts will continue to be the best New York Rangers blog because of that and I’ll tell you why with one last anecdote.
Anthony didn’t have to do this. He didn’t have to re-brand the site into Forever Blueshirts and he didn’t have to hand the keys off to the leadership group. There’s nothing in it for him to hand it off. When the Rangers lost in the playoffs last season in 2017, Anthony came out and hung it up. He announced publicly Full Tilt will be shutting down. At the time, I was a contributor and maybe wrote one or two pieces at most. I was more an awesome reader who was given access to drop his opinion when i so chose, I was the guy who showed up at that party, drank a few beers, ate some hors d’oeuvres, used the bathroom and left without saying goodnight to anybody.
When I read he was shutting it down I was kind of upset, I really didn’t want to find another go-to blog that I trusted and whose opinions weren’t umm shall i say “new age” but really “radical.” So I messaged him on the old tweeter and little did i know, so did many other people.
People who offered money for him to keep it going. People who then offered their time for him to keep it going. People who offered literally whatever he wanted to keep it going, and that’s where the core of Forever Blueshirts was founded. Anthony didn’t keep the site up and running because he wanted to. He did what he came to do, and he was more than ready to sit back and just be a fan but because of the support that came in he kept it going until that group grew, and then grew some more to the point that we know have the staff of writers and editors that the big sites have. To the point that we launched a podcast and then a second like the big sites have.
However, the group always maintained those two simple principles that Anthony built Full Tilt on during the New York Rangers playoff run of 1973… Passion and Quality (I’m kidding, he’s not that old). From the beginning Full Tilt was a site by a fan for the fans and forever going forward as the media landscape shifts, Forever Blueshirts will now go on into the future with two simple principles, Passion and Quality. Forever Blueshirts is a New York Rangers site by the fans, for the fans.
Where we go from here
So just like on the forefront of hockey blogging, Full Tilt filled this massive void, Forever Blueshirts will continue to fill the new massive void left in hockey blogging. See, I’m a little bit old school in the fact that I played the game and i’ve seen the teams that have succeeded on intangibles. I know there’s no perfect formula of statistics to a winning hockey team, because I’ve won and seen teams win who didn’t have that formula of statistics in their corner.
I know there’s more to a game and a player than his CF+90x30G (I made that up). So much of this game has become about that, and alot of it has to do with being able to articulate what happened and why it happened on a consistent basis with some sort of proof whether legitimate or not behind it.
I believe most of our readers are very much the same way and that’s what they’ve always appreciated about this group and what I’ve always appreciated about our readers. Don La Greca recently said it best when talking about the New York Giants struggles “I don’t need an advanced stat to tell me that the Giants offensive line stinks, I can see it with my own two eyes because I’ve watched football for 40 years.”
That goes the same here, and that ties into our core here, that we know you don’t need to be pandered to with statistics and formula’s to tell you why the team stunk and you don’t need a combined average of ice time minus times the player scratched his butt on the bench divided by how long he holds the puck when the opponent had sushi for dinner that night.
Let’s be real for a moment, the advanced stats that NHL teams use are proprietary and protected by millions of dollars of lawyers and contracts. The advanced stats being sold to you by most of the other sites are the equivalent of 3rd grade algebra when the one’s that are really being used and used with caution and in moderation at that are PhD level Trigonometry. I’m touching on this subject because that’s a point where Full Tilt has taken some flack in the past few years from some of the new age fans but with that flack, opens up another void similiar to the one most of us felt for so long.
We just want to talk simple sports, I don’t need a calculus class with my beer and sports talk and neither do you. That is the void that Forever Rangers will fill, similar to the void that Full Tilt filled years ago. I have a feeling that that is what brought you to FullTilt in the first place, a search for real hockey knowledge and real hockey talk. “That was a hard hit.” and “That was a beautiful goal.” explain just as much, and I think that that is what makes us stand out from all the rest. That “old school” view of the game that Anthony put into Full Tilt, will continue on Forever Blueshirts because we all understand that here.
From all of us
With that, would like to take this opportunity to welcome you to Forever Blueshirts. Thank you for being with us on this new endeavor and we can’t wait to show you all what we have in store. LETS GO RANGERS! And Ant, have a great retirement buddy.